Almost a quarter of children in Forres are now living below the poverty line.
The shocking 22 per cent figure, or 636 children, is amongst the worst in Moray.
It appears in a report by Scottish charity, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), based on UK Government data from July to September 2017.
CPAG director, John Dickie, confirmed that the figure across Moray is close to one in five (or 3219 children).
Keith and Cullen have the worst figures for the area at just over 22 per cent. Elgin City North and South sit at almost 17 per cent.
Mr Dickie said: “It is scandalous so many of our children are growing up in poverty. There can be little doubt that the UK Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.”
Moray Conservative MP, Douglas Ross, believes one child living in poverty is a child too many.
He said: “I welcome the action being taken by both our governments to tackle this issue and the target to reduce the number of children in Scotland living in poverty to 10 per cent by 2030, but more needs to be done.
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s acceptance of our proposal for a statutory Commission in the Child Poverty Bill, to scrutinise the work of the Scottish Government towards achieving these ambitious targets.”
SNP MSP Richard Lochhead believes that every child deserves the best possible start in life.
He said: “We’ve seen usage of foodbanks in Moray increase and people’s pockets are being hit due to the draconian welfare reforms being peddled by the Tories. People are struggling due to their austerity agenda meaning an increase in child poverty.”
The Report confirms that the problem exists at various levels across Scotland and the UK. The End Child Poverty coalition has published a new child poverty map covering the UK. It shows that as many as 34 per cent of children are living in poverty in some local authority areas.
Members of End Child Poverty in Scotland, including CPAG are calling for urgent action. This includes the UK Chancellor ending the freeze on children’s benefits - currently in place until the end of the decade - so that families no longer see living standards squeezed as prices rise.
Mr Dickie added: “Local partners must use every tool at their disposal to make a real difference to families.
“A relentless focus on boosting family incomes and reducing the costs families face is needed if progress toward eradicating child poverty is to be made.
“Action to support parents in work, improve access to childcare, provide welfare rights advice and reduce the costs of school and housing are among the many actions that can be taken at local level.”
A Moray Council spokesperson confirmed the Children’s Services Partnership at a community planning level are taking a lead.
She said: “Work is being developed around our child poverty strategy. This is also very closely aligned to the work of our Local Outcome Improvement Plan which is in the process of being finalised.
“No formal reports have been prepared as yet.”
However, Local Independent councillor, Lorna Creswell, was disappointed to find that “addressing equalities and reducing poverty statistics was not part of Moray Council’s priorities” and sees the current support system in Forres as being inadequate.